Due to the social interaction and high amount of stimulation that accompanies the college experience, the majority of adults with autism never choose to enroll in higher education. For a percentage of those that do, college classes online often seem like the best option. However, not every online college program is equal, and unfortunately the majority of them do not factor autism into their creation. So those with autism and their loved ones need to stop and consider the following when browsing potential choices for online college enrollment:
Are instructors easily reachable?
It’s hard to figure this one out prior to actually participating in the particular online college experience, but take a hint from the initial wait time when contacting the school. If they take longer than a day to get back to you, then assume it’s just as long and even longer for online professors to get back in touch with their students.
For students with autism, this issue is vastly important. Patience is hard-won for those with autism so when presented with a new experience, the dissatisfaction of not being assisted on time can lead to exasperation. This in turn can lead to a student with autism giving up. Make sure any viable online college option guarantees easy access to the instructor.
How does the interface look?
Getting to experience the online learning environment prior to enrollment is essential. Otherwise the design of the particular system may be too overwhelming or perhaps too boring. The design will matter to those who struggle to adjust to uncompromising color schemes and stylized graphics.
Ideally, the online learning system should be simple and rely on a mix of reading and visual material. Volume adjustment should be easy. Playback of information should be simple as well. But perhaps the most important issue is that of document saving. Students are typically expected to email documents to instructors and depending on the online college system there could be some in-program assignment uploading required. If so it’s vital that hard work isn’t easily wiped out with a mistaken click.
Is health insurance available?
When it comes to mainstream schools offering full-time online education opportunities, there’s an increasing chance they may offer health insurance to online students. If your preexisting health insurance package is pricey, then it’s worth checking to see if a particular school offers their own plan to students and if so, whether or not it’s cheaper than your own. Considering the cost is added on top of tuition in many cases so you could save hundreds of dollars a month in the interim.
Does the program particularly take advantage of the remote-learning experience?
The whole reason that online college is such a popular option for those with autism is that it lets them experience higher education at their own pace. It’s vital that you make sure the online program of your choice accentuates this. It’s not simply that an online program should recreate a real classroom, it’s that it alters the traditional tactics of learning a little bit to make college an easier experience for those who find classroom-oriented college to be too difficult. Make sure the online program of your choice caters to those seeking an alternative form of education and not simply those looking to cut down on the time it takes to get a degree.
Is there a way to still provide social interaction?
This is the one that goes beyond a simple evaluation of a particular program. While online education is a great option for those with autism to learn at their own pace it’s important to make sure that it won’t cause social development to dissipate entirely. Whether the program encourages field trip style interaction itself or you have a side system of your own, it’s important to never neglect the importance of always promoting some level of social involvement with an autistic loved one attending an academic institution. It may never be a battle that’s won, but it should never be a battle that is lost.
If you keep the aforementioned in mind, there’s no way you or your loved one won’t fair better at the online education experience than you otherwise would have. Just remember that it’s a terrific option, but that choosing the right one specifically is a task left entirely up to you.